Philipp Hildebrand, sometimes described as “the most powerful man in Switzerland,” had to step back in order to restore the credibility of the SNB, Swiss editorialists say on Tuesday.
In the German-language press, most newspapers find the move regretful and continue to express their respect for Hildebrand.
The SNB chief had found himself under immense pressure after it emerged that his wife had profited from massive dollar transactions just weeks before the central bank took steps to cool the burgeoning Swiss franc.
While criticising the SNB president and his wife, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung also denounces the theft of bank data from Bank Sarasin, which led to the scandal becoming public. The newspaper hopes the people responsible are held accountable for their acts, including Christoph Blocher, the Swiss People’s Party strongman who passed on the leaked bank data to the Federal Council.
According to the Basler Zeitung, Hildebrand “is not a victim and he must leave.” The Basel newspaper says that for him to have stayed on as head of the SNB would have caused unacceptable damage to Switzerland’s reputation abroad.
Blick newspaper cites sources claiming that Hildebrand’s decision to resign wasn’t his own, but that he was pushed by the increasing mistrust of the governing board of the SNB.
In the French-speaking press, Le Matin writes that Hildebrand, though undeniably “bright”, “could not live with a doubt hanging over his honesty”.
24 Heures says his “sincerity was convincing, but still insufficient.” However, the Vaud newspaper considers his decision a dignified act that showed “a sense of duty and of State” on Hildebrand’s behalf.
Le Quotidien Jurassien also analyses the political dimensions of the Hildebrand affair:
“This sudden resignation will make Hildebrand’s detractors thrust out their chests,” it says in reference to Blocher. “A revenge that will pour balm on the electoral wounds of the SVP, which are still painful for [the party’s] strategist,” adds the paper.
According to Le Temps, Hildebrand’s departure means “Switzerland lost a good man, and the only link with the G20 and its forums.”
La Liberté says that “Switzerland is losing its general at the worst time” because “the war to prevent the franc reaching a suicidal level continues”.
The Swiss press also takes aim at the SNB.
“It is about time it wakes up, shakes off its laxity and sets up clear rules for its board members. For the sake of everybody,” writes Le Matin. Le Temps describes as “carelessness” the lack of sufficient checks and balances at the SNB.